LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A Cerritos man behind an anti-Muslim film that officials blamed for violence in parts of the Middle East was released from federal custody Thursday morning.
Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Ed Ross said 56-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is scheduled for release on Thursday from a halfway house in Southern California, where he’s been held since May.
Police have confirmed Nakoula will be released to Pastor Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, according to CBS2’s Michelle Gile.
Nakoula, whose name in court files is Mark Basseley Youssef, was sentenced in November to a year in federal prison for using false names in violation of a probation order on a bank fraud case. That case was not related to the film.
Nakoula went into hiding last September before his arrest after U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack by Muslim protesters on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, CBS News reported.
Ambassador Susan Rice and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had initially cited Nakoula’s film as a possible provocation for the attacks in Benghazi, but it was later revealed that unidentified government officials removed references to terrorism and al Qaeda from so-called “talking points” released to the public shortly after the attacks, according to CBS News.
The filmmaker told Fox News earlier this year by telephone that he was proud of the film.
Youssef spoke to CBS2’s Michele Gile hours after he was released from the halfway house.
He insisted his film was anti-terrorism but not anti-Muslim even thought Muhammad was depicted as a pedophile and womanizer.
“I would like to apologize for any inconvenience and any misunderstanding,” Youssef said, “What’s in my script, some people are misunderstanding it and they feel something bad in their feelings because they misunderstand what I am talking about.”
Youssef was taken in by the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park.
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